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Appl Opt. 1998 Aug 20;37(24):5579-89.

Theory and laboratory demonstrations on the use of a nematic liquid-crystal phase modulator for controlled turbulence generation and adaptive optics.


We discuss the use of liquid-crystal phase modulators (LCPM's) both as a repeatable disturbance test source and as an adaptive optics corrector. LCPM's have the potential to induce controlled, repeatable, dynamic aberrations into optical systems at low cost, low complexity, and high flexibility. Because they are programmable and can be operated as transmissive elements, they can easily be inserted into the optical path of an adaptive optics system and used to generate a disturbance test source. When used as wave-front correctors they act as a piston-only segmented mirror and have a number of advantages. These include low operating power requirements, relatively low cost, and compact size. Laboratory experiments with a Meadowlark LCPM are presented. We first describe use of the LCPM as a repeatable disturbance generator for testing adaptive optics systems. We then describe a closed-loop adaptive optics system using the LCPM as the wave-front corrector. The adaptive optics system includes a Shack-Hartmann wave-front sensor operated with a zonal control algorithm.

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